UNWTO Workshop on Mekong River-based Tourism Development

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The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) supported the recent UNWTO Workshop on Mekong River-based Tourism Development on November 19th in Da Nang, Viet Nam.

“Member countries in the Mekong River region including Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Viet Nam should build up long-term strategies and action plans to boost co-operation of river-based tourism in the future.” Harry Hwang, deputy regional director regional programme for Asia and the Pacific of World Tourism Organisation, said at the Mekong River-based Tourism Product Development workshop in Da Nang.  The region has identified 14 products and the Mekong-based tourism is a crucial product, which has a lot of potential, and each country should do more investment in infrastructure and facilities in matching the service from country to country,” Hwang said.

A deputy head of Viet Nam National Tourism Administration, Ha Van Sieu, said “Countries in the Mekong River region need to join hands to smooth the development of river-based tourism.  River-based tourism connection among countries has seen operations among travel agencies. A series of items including ports, accommodation, navigation, environment and service are needed to be developed each country for the river-based tourism,” he said.

Peter Semone, consultant of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), presented the Strategy and Action Plan of the Mekong River-based Tourism Product Development at the workshop, saying that it would be a great product.

He said the Mekong River-based Tourism Product means many things including historical and religious sites, bird and dolphin watching, trekking, ethnic village visit, community-based tourism, day and night cruise, kayaking, fishing, cycling and camping.  Countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region face various challenges in developing river tourism.

“There will be different factors that affect tourists’ use of rivers in the region including political, management, biological, recreational use, transportation, accommodation, environment, and industrial,” Semone added. “The region could host three or four day international cruises from Cambodia and Laos to Viet Nam via HCM City. Cruises could dock at HCM City’s ports to cruise the Mekong one day,”

Viet Nam’s government has invested much for the river tourism service. My Tho in Tien Giang and Vinh Xuong Check-out on the river tour was a success story.  Westerners prefer camping, trekking and cycling along the Mekong, but such services have yet to be seen in the region.

Semone also warned of challenges that regional countries should be aware of the future of river-based tourism development. He said there are 41 ports and landings along the river, but it needs standard ports, visitor information centres, and embankment facilities.

“First aid medical clinic with trained staffs, rescue boats, fueling facilities, road access to neighbouring tourism infrastructure, public toilet facilities that meet ASEAN standards, restaurants with international food safety and hygiene standards must be created,” he detailed.  He also reminded about garbage disposal as garbage could be seen everywhere as well as navigation aids.

Mekong River Cruises have consistently been ranked as one of the top ten river cruises in the world.

Mekong River, one of the largest rivers in over the world, started running from China, through Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Cruising down the river, travelers will have amazing experiences with the blend of modern cities and peaceful floating villages.

A lot of cruise tours will take travelers to many stunning destinations such as Angkor Watt temple complex in Cambodia or floating markets in the Southern of Vietnam. Mekong river cruise is a perfect opportunity for international visitors to see and feel and enjoy a real Asia.

Mekong river, Floating market

In the twilight, water of the river will turn to a vivid pink when the sun comes down. Therefore, seeing the river at sunset is an unforgettable memories .

Especially, fishing service is very popular in here, because there are a lot of rare fishes like bagarius, hemibagrus, giant barb and giant carp living in the river.

Source: Vietnam Net

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